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(Neb)-Ag Hall Of Fame Induction Day At The Dawes County Fair

By: John Axtell Posted at: 07/30/2017 10:33 AM
CHADRON - The Dawes County Fair in Chadron honors the past and present today with Dawes County Ag Hall of Fame induction ceremony at 2:00...which also includes presentation of the Ak-Sar-Ben Good Neighbor Award, the Extra Mile Award, the Charlie Snook Memorial Tree Planters Award, and the Century Farm Award.

      Today's Fair schedule also includes Lawnmower Racing, which begins at 2:00, and the Highway 20 Antique Tractor Association Tractor Pull at 4:00.

      Entering the County Ag Hall of Fame are  Don Fryda, Bob and Sharon Rickenbach, and Jake and Vicki Wasserburger.

      Fryda is a wildlife specialist for APHIS, the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, but is generally referred to as the "government trapper" for northwest Nebraska...a position he's held for more more the 38 years.

      Fryda followed in the footsteps of his father, who filled the same type of post in north-central and southwest Nebraska....and one of his brothers also took the same career path. APHIS honored Fryda in 2008 with its Bill Spalsbury Award for the western half of the United State...citing his "professionalism, positive attitude, and significant contribution" to the agency.

    Bob and Sharon Rickenbach were high school sweethearts and celebrated their golden wedding anniversary last year. Sharon is a second-generation Hall of Famer, with her parents - the late Gordon and Helen Redfern - inducted 20 years ago.

       Both have been active in a wide range of community events and organizations over the years. Bob was part of the chain gang at CSC football games for 24 years and is on the Northwest Rural Public Power District board.

     Sharon is officially retired from the college and is past president of the Chadron Community Hospital board and the Chadron CUlture Club, but is also currently president of the Dawes County Historical Museum board and vice president of a project that puts flowers in hospital rooms to brighten the spirits of patients.

     She was also one of the leaders in the effort that placed a gravesite information kiosk at Greenwood Cemetery and remains one of the organizers of the Fur Trade Days Cemetery Tours to help fund ongoing operations and upgrades of the kiosk.

      Jake Wasserburger's grandfather, Big Jake, homesteaded in northern Sioux County in 1885 and the ranch remains a key part of the family's ag operation while Vicki Wasserburger grew up on a ranch southeast of Crawford.

        The couple's parents were friends, but they say they didn't really know each other until they both attended the University of Wyoming and their mothers arranged for Vicki to ride home with Jake.

      Vicki worked as a nurse at the hospitals in Crawford and Lusk before focusing on ranching. Jake used his degree in animal science to bring innovations to the family ag operations and the Wasserburgers were among the first in the area to fertilize their alfalfa fields, nearly doubling yields.

       Jake is a past member of the Dawes County Planning Commission, the current president of the Sugar Loaf Grazing Association, and just served on the Farm Credit Services of Omaha board member nominating committee.

      The Ak-Sar-Ben Good Neighbor Award is going to 3 local residents for their willingness to go above and beyond to make the community and state a better place to live.

     Terri Haynes of Whitney has a full-time job at Chadron State College and is involved in more than 20 organizations and activities, but her Good Neighbor Award recognizes Terri for her relationship with the late Mary Daniels, her across-the-street neighbor for the last 15 years of Daniels' life.

     Terri helped by cleaning, fixing, and repairing Mary's home, but also frequently watched the late TV news with her and would go on sight-seeing trips around the local area in Terri's convertible with the top down.

     Don Konrath is being honored for his service to the Chadron Senior Citizen Center and the seniors of the community. He serves as the Center's handiman - handling repairs and improvements while taking care of the lawn and landscaping.

     Konrath provides rides to seniors who lack transportation, delivers Meals on Wheels, and remains active with the Knights of Columbus and its many activities.

    Vicki Kotschwar's Good Neighbor Award recognizes her work with veterans across the region, both as an individual and a member of the American Legion Auxiliary, including special touches for those at the Nebraska State Veterans' Home in Scottsbluff and the VA Battle Mountain Domiciliary in Hot Springs.

     The Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben, who have been making Good Neighbor Awards since 1942, also joins the Nebraska Farm Bureau in recognizing farms and ranches that have been owned by the same family for 100 years. Receiving the Century Farm Award today is the Heesacker Farm, straddling Dawes and Sheridan counties northwest of Hay Springs.

    Tony and Mary Heesacker purchased about 400 acres on Jan 26, 1917, and one of their 6 children, the late Jack Heesacker, was born there in 1931. He and his wife Pauline eventually bought out his siblings. Jack died two years ago this Tuesday, but the land is still owned by Pauline and their two children, Jim and Delila.

      Jim and his wife Sandy live in Hay Springs and have 2 children and 1 grandson. Delila and her husband MIke Bartels live in Chadron and have 3 children and 5 grandkids.

       Being presented today with the Extra Miler Award from the Dawes County Ag Society, known as the Fair Board to most people, are Jim and Deb Lesmeister. The Lesmeisters are being recognized for their long work with the 4-H Horse Show and the Kids Rodeo.

      Also being honored are Jim and Ann Mapes, this year's recipients of the Charlie Snook Memorial Tree Planters Award from the Upper Niobrara White Natural Resources District. The Mapes have planted nearly 26,000 trees on their ranch in southern Dawes County and protected them with 8,400-feet of fences.


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